For many years, the deaf community and the public have been behind a GCSE in British Sign Language (BSL).
It recognises the 55,000 deaf children in the UK and champions the use of the language within the education system.
Supporting deaf children to communicate with their peers and promoting BSL will also improve access.
Signature, which is the only awarding body for BSL training, has been involved in creating a GCSE in BSL for many years now.
The qualification was delivered through a successful pilot in a group of secondary schools.
Daniel Jilllings, a young Deaf campaigner, gained attention of the media from 2018, when he was only 12-years old, through to now. Sharing his story of being the only deaf child in his secondary school and unable to study his first language as a GCSE.
Discussions continued throughout 2018 and 2019.
The Department for Education (DfE) confirmed that they will begin the task of developing a BSL GCSE.
The Government confirmed that the work on developing a GCSE in BSL has recommenced.
“The most important thing left to do is to carry on reminding the Department for Education (DfE) that Deaf children are waiting for a GCSE in BSL.”
In a statement issued to the Limping Chicken in August 2020, a DfE spokesperson said the department is “fully committed” to making sure that children with SEND receive support in the early years, school and college.
“Schools have the freedom to include British Sign Language (BSL) in their curriculum if they wish to do so, and we are working towards a BSL GCSE, which will be introduced as soon as possible, subject to meeting GCSE requirements.”
British Sign Language has received the Royal Ascent and became an official language under the BSL Act 2022.
This is a massive step for the future education of deaf people.
The British Deaf Association is working with Signature to support initiating a GCSE qualification in British Sign Language.
Also, together with NDCS and the British Association of Teachers of Deaf Children and Young People – they all are searching for people interested in a BSL GCSE.
The link to the survey is here, and anyone can fill it up.
Students will soon be able to study British Sign Language (BSL) as a GCSE following a consultation into the course content.
As part of the GCSE, students will be taught around 1,000 signs and how to use them to communicate effectively with other signers for use in work, social and academic settings.
The GCSE assumes no prior knowledge of BSL but will be accessible for students who use it as their first language.
We intend for the BSL GCSE to be available to teach in schools from September 2025.
More updates are available here:
The Department for Education have released a document outlining the objectives and content scope for the GCSE in BSL.
Alongside the assessment objectives, it established the framework for awarding organisations to develop the specifics, and enabling the progression into further academic, vocational study, training or employment opportunities.
In addition to mastering sign language skills, the GCSE will also teach students about the history of sign language in the UK. This knowledge will help students grasp how the language evolved into its present state.